Teenage pregnancies reach a record low in the island

TEENAGE pregnancies in the island have reached record low numbers, with just four conceptions a year for under-18s between 2019 and 2021.

A pregnancy test and its instructions (31111297)
A pregnancy test and its instructions (31111297)

Since free contraception was introduced for under-21s locally in 2017, the number of teens getting pregnant has significantly reduced. Guernsey now has a rate of 4.3 pregnancies per every 1,000, compared with 15.2 in England and Wales.

The move in Guernsey mirrored a similar one in Jersey, which has had a similar impact.

‘In the years since contraception became freely available for young people, conception rates among women under-18 have – just as we hoped and predicted – reduced further, bringing the two Channel Islands to similarly low rates,’ said head of health intelligence Jenny Cataroche.

Teenage pregnancy rates fell considerably over the last 14 years, but had stabilised in the Bailiwick by 2016, driving forward the introduction of free birth control.

‘This puts us in a position where it is difficult to reduce any further and maintenance of this low level, accepting some year-to-year fluctuation, will be the marker of ongoing success,’ Ms Cataroche added.

Contraception is provided by the island’s primary and secondary care services, as well as the Orchard Centre and Choices.

‘Choices are really pleased to be able to play a role in achieving these impressive results as part of our partnership working,’ said manager Fiona Hardy.

‘This aligns with our strategic aims which are to support sexual wellbeing by empowering individuals to make positive choices about their reproductive and sexual health. This programme does just that, and we look forward to continuing to deliver services for young people in the Bailiwick.’

Health & Social Care vice-president Tina Bury thanked all partners for supporting the programme, as well as fellow politicians and the Employment & Social Security Committee.

‘This service has achieved excellent results and will positively impact the health and wellbeing of young people in the Bailiwick for years to come. This is because, as well as the costs associated with pregnancy and birth, under-18 conceptions can lead to socioeconomic deprivation, mental health difficulties and lower levels of educational attainment. This is likely to also impact on the reliance on social benefits,’ said Deputy Bury.

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